[About this blog] Inspired by local soccer player Mike Lim during my rookie reporter days at Singapore Polytechnic, I set up this blog in August 2002. I feel that blogging is a novel platform to document interesting facets of my life and my thoughts on certain issues. [Email blogger] ephraim@singnet.com.sg

Thursday, February 08, 2007

[The Wenzhou Connection in Gabon]
1. Ephraim posted a blog and some pictures of the visit by the Vice-Premier and Foreign Minister of Gabon, Jean Ping, to our constituency. I knew Minister Jean Ping when he was the very able President of the UN General Assembly. He is Chinese. His father from Wenzhou went to Gabon many years ago to trade and married an African.

2. Wenzhou is in the southern part of Zhejiang Province. It is now a very rich city producing all kinds of light industrial products. Most of the cigarette lighters in the world are made in Wenzhou. There are over 2000 shoe factories producing a billion pairs of shoes a year! I was told this when I visited the city a few years ago and just could not believe my ears. The Wenzhou people are known to be the Jews of China. They are very entrepreneurial. They own a lot of the real estate in Shanghai. Many Wenzhou people do business in France, Spain and Italy. I know for a fact that many of the Chinese restaurants in Italy are run by them.

3. Gabon is a country on the equator on the western coast of Africa. It has a small population of about 1.5 million but has a land area larger than that of the UK. It produces about 300,000 barrels of oil a day. The country has long enjoyed political stability under PM Obongo.

4. When Minister Gabon first visited China, his relatives went to see him in Beijing. Since then, the Chinese community in Gabon has grown and there must be about a thousand Wenzhou Chinese living there now. When Chinese President Hu Jintao visited Gabon last year, they turned out in full force to welcome him.

5. I arranged for Minister Gabon to be hosted by the Wenzhou Clan Association in Singapore. I was unable to join him but saw a lovely picture in Zaobao today of Minister Ping tossing the yu sheng with his fellow Wenzhou clansmen. He invited me to visit Gabon, saying with a smile that the Chinese community there would help look after me.

Do also read my posts on Beyond SG


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